18 January 2010

Beyond Mobile Homes

Manufacturing in the housing industry is mostly associated in the popular mind with trailer parks, perhaps one of the most dismal episodes in the history of American architecture. But, making buildings in a factory, or at least parts of buildings, can reduce construction waste, shorten on site construction costs, improve quality, provide all year round work for employees who are also at lower risk of on the job injury, and trim costs. Simply put, factories can be very good at making things, compared to one unit at a time craftmanship in the uncontrolled conditions of a construction site.

What am I talking about?

Boulder's Keymark Enterprises, LLC is an example:

Instead of on-site construction workers cutting and assembling the lumber that makes up a house frame — along with wasted material from mistakes in that process — Keymark delivers lumber that has been cut according to the design specifications of a house.

With lumber cut to precise measurements, homebuilders can cut down on the amount of waste produced at a construction site. That means less money for materials and disposal, said Dietzen. For instance, one Dumpster of materials can cost $400 per disposal and another $1,000 on labor for unused material. That is on top of the actual cost of the material.

"We just push a button and download all the data to the plant and then feed our automated saw," said Dietzen. "We then package it up and send it out to the job site."

Without wasted parts, builders can save homebuyers thousands of dollars, Dietzen said. . . .

"After a few weeks, I spoke to my foreman and asked him how they were," said [Developer Steve] Bainbridge, who noted that Keymark's precut lumber had gotten down to within 1/16th of an inch. "He was blown away."

Pre-cut framing lumber is just the tip of the iceberg. Some companies, for example, pre-assemble wall panels that are put in place with cranes, with the framing assembled, and the plumbing, electric lines, insulation, and interior drywall.

No comments: